Joseph Montalban(1924 - 2014)

Joseph Montalban

Cut Bank —Joseph V. Montalban, of Cut Bank and Whitefish, passed away peacefully on Good Friday, April 18, 2014 in Kalispell, after suffering a massive stroke.

The vigil and funeral mass will be held at St. Margaret Catholic Church of Cut Bank. The vigil is scheduled for Thursday evening, April 24, at 7 p.m. Mass will take place Friday, April 25, at 10:30 a.m. Lunch will follow at Cut Bank Golf and Country Club.

Joe was born to Evelina M. (Usigli) Montalban and Joseph Victor Montalban on June 17, 1924 in Souke, British Columbia. His birth certificate states that his full name was Guiseppe Vittorio Guido Armano Montalban. As a little guy his nickname was "Vivi" pronounced vee vee! This may have started his love for giving everyone nicknames.

Joe's older sister, Niva, told stories of how Joe and his brother, Ludwig (Monte) charmed every person they met. The family moved from Vancouver to Toronto when Joe was 16.

Joe joined the Canadian Navy in December 1942 at the age of 18-1/2 and served until December 1945, a few months after the war was over.

Joe was proud of the time he spent in service to his country, particularly his participation in an operation, "Murmansk Run." His ship was part of an escort providing protection from the German U-Boat wolf packs that preyed upon convoys of merchant ships carrying arms and materials across the North Atlantic, around Norway, to Murmansk, Russia. The Murmansk Run was perilous duty, but vital to the war effort and continued from 1942 through 1945. Joe loved to tell about his and his buddies extracurricular activities, escapades and adventures in ports of call all around the world, and they were wild! After all, they were a bunch of young sailors!!

When Joe returned to Toronto from the war, he fell in love with "his wild Irish Rose," Kathleen Dwan. They eloped to Cody, Wyo. Katie and Joe spent their early married years in Edmonton, Alberta, where four of their five children (Cody, Tamara, Vallia and Shane) were born. Their fifth child, Patrick, was born in Billings. Katie and Joe were passionate, energetic individuals.

Joe married Cora Belle Dilley Larson (mother of Shelley and Richard) on June 4, 1971 in Las Vegas, Nev. They made their home in Cut Bank, which remained their primary residence during their 43-year marriage. Joe and Cora Belle loved to relax at "The Lago," their home on Whitefish Lake and in later years, they escaped the harshest winter months to Palm Springs. Joe was the original sun-lover and always enjoyed basking in the sun.

Two things ran through the blood of JVM: his Italian heritage and oil. He started his extensive oil career as a roughneck in Alberta in the late 40's. He worked for Flank Oil in Southern Alberta and Montana. In the mid-50's he moved to Billings with Flank Oil. He ventured out on his own to start Montalban Drilling and Montalban Oil and Gas Operations.

Joe's work ethic and business instincts led to early success. During this time he drilled more Devonian deep test wells than any other company. Joe's first public company, Mountain States Resources, was registered on the Vancouver Exchange in 1972. He started Monte Grande Exploration in 1975. The two companies were merged into MSR Exploration, which was traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange. Joe was the first person in Montana to start a publicly traded company. The company operated wells in Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Texas and Alberta.

During this time he ran the only company that produced natural gas from the Rocky Mountain Front. He sold MSR in 1999 to Quicksilver Resources from Fort Worth, Texas. In 2001 he started Mountainview Energy (MVW) with his son, Patrick. Joe officially retired in 2006, but stayed active, operating his private oil company Montalban Oil and Gas Operation through this period of time.

Joe never grew tired of the oil business. He spent his final years visiting the office and reading his mail. He delighted in hearing about MVW drilling successes in the Bakken/Three Forks horizontal wells in North Dakota.

Joe was a lover of music: from 78s to LPs, no one in Billings could match his record collection. His favorite music was classical. His favorite artist was Frank Sinatra. How very appropriate he was singing Frank Sinatra at the last awake moments of his life. Frank Sinatra's song "I did it my way" defined Joe's life. He loved to dance...but only if it involved an embrace.

A voracious reader, Joe stayed current on politics and business, but he never read for pleasure. He told his children, "Sleeping is a waste of time and reading fiction a waste of brain power."

Joe loved flowers. A trip to the grocery store wasn't complete unless he had purchased a few bouquets. It wasn't uncommon for him to lavish everyone in the office with beautiful, fresh flowers. He showed his devotion to his mother Evelina by sending flowers every Monday.

Joe was an excellent pilot. Flying a small plane in the peace of the clouds was one of the few times he allowed himself the luxury of living completely in the moment.

Joe is survived by his wife Cora Belle; his sister, Niva (Julian) Rowan; his children, Tamara "Tammy" (Kelly) Hall of Bozeman, Vallia (Bruce) Young, Hope, British Columbia, Kelly "Shane" Montalban, Vancouver, British Columbia, Patrick (Toni) Montalban of Cut Bank; and Cora Belle's children Shelley Larson of Denver, Colo., and Richard (Margret) Larson of Durango, Colo.

He is also survived by his grandchildren, Tera Hall, Tiffani (Shane) Coleman, Troy (Sandy) Hall, Taylor Young, Brandon Young, Katie Young, Stephanie Montalban, Cora Montalban, Joy (Jack) Giovanini, Halley (Ian) McDonald, Joseph P. Montalban, Victoria L. Montalban, Jason P. Dowdy (Katie), Alison M. Harris (Darren), Henry W.L. Larson, Claire E. Larson; and great grandchildren Christian and Jason Coleman, Corbin and Elizabeth Young, Cooper and Lena Giovanini, Eva McDonald, Reagan and MacKenzie Dowdy and Kelston, Kennedy, Hadley and Addison Harris.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Evelina and Joseph Montalban; his brother Ludwig (Monte) Montalban; his son J. Cody Montalban; granddaughter Molly Montalban; and his first wife Kathleen Dwan Montalban Litzenberger.

He was a lifelong member of the Northern Montana Oil and Gas Association, IPAA, founding member of the Billings Petroleum Club, and also belonged to the Elks and the Moose.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Joe's memory to: Alpine Theater Project, Whitefish, MT; Kidpacks food program, Cut Bank, MT; or West Mont Group Homes, Helena, MT.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Whitted Funeral Chapel, Cut Bank. Please visit Joe's online memorial and leave a message of condolence for the family at

Funeral Home

Whitted Funeral Chapel
130 6Th Ave Se Cut Bank, MT 59427
(406) 873-2032

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Apr. 23, 2014